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In 3rd grade one of the new common core math standards is:

  • CCSS.Math.Content.3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.

I was glad that I took a moment to look up the exact standard after watching two 3rd grade classes work on graphs.  The standard suggests that students should draw a scaled picture graph and bar graph.  Both classrooms I entered into were reviewing graphs as a whole class.  I did not see anything in the room/on the walls that suggested that students had at any point made their “own” graphs or even drawn a graph with provided data.

When I left the classroom and was discussing the lesson with my supervisor, who was also unimpressed.  Within minutes–I thought about what I might do with that standard.

This is what popped into my head before we even made it to the next classroom:

Ideas of students gathering data that interested them popped into my head.

Ideas of students discussing different graphing scales and types as they try and understand why someone would choose a particular scale or graph.

Ideas of students then creating their own graphs and justifying their graph choice and scale–with data they collected.

I saw small groups, partner groups, and conversation.

Tell me— how might you try and make this standard meaningful?  How might you really include those “21st Century” skills we’ve all been hearing about?